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Film: Les Diaboliques
aka: Diabolique

Les Diaboliques ("The Devils"), also known as Diabolique, is a French suspense-thriller made in 1955 and directed by Henri-Georges Clouzot. Christina and Nicole, respectively the wife and mistress of Michel the Jerk Ass school headmaster, conspire to kill him. However, after they carry it out, his body disappears, and then things just get weirder. Christina and Nicole were played by Vera Clouzot and Simone Signoret.

Remade as Diabolique in 1996 with Sharon Stone as Nicole the mistress, Isabelle Adjani as Mia the wife, Chazz Palminteri as the brutish husband, and Kathy Bates as the police detective.

This movie contains examples of:

  • Cut Himself Shaving: Nicole gives a lame excuse for a black eye that was apparently caused by Michel.
  • Do Not Spoil This Ending: Translated from French, the final title card after the film reads:
    Don't be diabolic yourselves! Don't ruin the interest your friends could take in this film. Don't tell them what you saw. On their behalf, we thank you.
  • The Ending Changes Everything: The whole movie is a plot by Michel and Nicole to kill Christina. She has a weak heart, which they use to frighten her to death.
  • Enforced Method Acting: For the scene where the staff and students are served spoiled fish, Clouzot reportedly forced the actors to consume the genuine article.
  • Faking the Dead: Michel wasn't dead at all. It was a trick to fool Christina.
  • Focus Group Ending: The remake completely changes (and arguably ruins) the ending. Mia doesn't die, Nicole panics, and in the end Mia and Nicole drown Guy (the husband) in the pool, for real. The detective then helps them cover it up.
  • Fright Death Trap: Christina, driven wild by fright, has her fatal heart attack after Michel rises from the tub.
  • Gaslighting: Nicole and Michel are plotting to drive Christina mad with fear.
  • Gender Flip: Kathy Bates as the Fichet-Expy in the 1996 remake.
  • Hollywood Heart Attack: Averted. The fatal heart attack at the end is disturbingly realistic.
  • Homoerotic Subtext: The film implies that Christina and Nicole are lovers—one scene shows them in the same room in pajamas, and later they speak of running away together. This is however never expressly portrayed or stated. Some things you couldn't do in 1955, even in France.
  • Mind Screw
  • Nothing Is Scarier: The tension when Christina is wandering through the deserted halls of the school at night, looking for Michel, is incredible.
  • Not Quite Dead: Possibly. The film hints that the wife might have survived her heart attack. (Or that the kid saw her ghost. Or that the kid is a liar.)
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: Fichet, the detective, employs a bit of this. (More than one observer has noted the character's similarity to Columbo.)
  • Police Are Useless: It's good that Fichet heard Michel and Nicole discussing their plot, but it would have been better if he'd stepped up before Christina keeled over and died.
  • Rape Discretion Shot: The film implies that Michel rapes Christina after the dinner with the fish.
  • Reverse Whodunnit: What happened to Michel's body? What's going on?
  • Screaming Woman: Christina, when the lights go out just after she finds Michel's name written over and over on the typewriter during the climax.
  • Spooky Photographs: Michel's ghostly face appears in the class portrait.
  • Twist Ending: Michel and Nicole have been in cahoots all along.
  • Would Hit a Girl: Michel slaps Christina after she spills alcohol on his suit—it's drugged, and she was trying to stop him from drinking it. She then goes ahead and lets him drink.

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alternative title(s): Diabolique; Les Diaboliques
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